The Bears scored twice in the final 1:13 of regulation, including a tricky Philly Special-style reverse pass from a running back with no time left on the clock that, along with the extra point, sent the game to overtime.
The Giants, who were up by 10 just a few minutes earlier and should have been able to close out the victory at any of a half-dozen points in that span, must have felt as if they’d let another one slip away.
They were a last-place team about to be force-fed one of the worst-tasting losses of a year that has been like an all-you-can-eat buffet of them.
But an answer after the game from B.W. Webb, who was flagged for pass interference in the end zone to set up that Bears touchdown, spoke volumes about what Sunday meant for the Giants.
Asked if he came off the field after that series thinking the Giants had just lost the game, the cornerback said: “Nope. We had no doubt at all.”
It was easy to say that after the Giants did come back to win. Aldrick Rosas kicked a 44-yard field goal 4:03 into overtime and the defense finally made a stop on fourth down to give them a 30-27 victory. But that the sentiment seemed sincere — and widespread — was perhaps the most important takeaway from a game that will have very little impact in the Giants’ status in the standings or do much to erase the misery of the first three months of the season.
The Giants are trying to build toward something, and Sunday’s victory over a playoff-bound team feels as if it could propel them in the right direction.
“We’re learning how to win. Simple as that, we’re learning how to win,” said wide receiver Russell Shepard, who caught a 49-yard touchdown pass and made key contributions on special teams. “Earlier in the season, we probably lose that game, but now we’re learning how to win. We don’t want to be in that situation, but at the end of the day, we won the football game, and that’s the most important thing.”
The win did come with some added meaning, considering where the Giants were a year ago this weekend. Monday is the anniversary of the Giants’ loss to the Raiders in Oakland in which Eli Manning was benched for Geno Smith. The next day, coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were fired. It was the nadir of a miserable season that led to an overhaul of the front office, coaching staff and roster.
The Giants have only four wins in 12 games. That’s not an acceptable number, obviously, but it does indicate an improvement over 2017’s three. And for Pat Shurmur, it shows that they are moving in the right direction.
“Some people are fond of talented people, some people are fond of smart people, I’m fond of tough, resilient people,” Shurmur said. “When you’re trying to flip culture, when you’re trying to build something, you’ve got to really dig in on that. It would have been easy to cave when an 8-3 team came back and tied us up . . . but our guys found a way to put points on the board and then stop them at the end. I’m fond of toughness and resiliency, and our team showed that today.”
It would have been better had they not had to. Maybe.
“I think that’s the whole shift they’re trying to make is a winning culture,” left tackle Nate Solder said. “Winning games is doing that, but more than that is being a really solid team after a season that’s been so tough. It speaks about the type of guys we have in the locker room.”
The Giants used a touchdown pass thrown by Odell Beckham Jr. and a touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr. in a span of 8:51 in the third quarter to take a 24-14 lead. The teams swapped field goals to make it 27-17 with 1:49 left. But the Bears drove 72 yards to kick a field goal, recovered an onside kick — it appeared as if Beckham could have been more aggressive and caught the ball, but he waited for a second bounce — and drove 53 yards for the tying touchdown.
The Giants got the ball to open the extra period and Saquon Barkley kick-started the drive with a 29-yard run. Rosas’ field goal gave them the lead, but the defense still had to make a stop. They did, with Janoris Jenkins batting the final pass away.
Beckham delivered an emotional halftime speech that seemed to spark the Giants as they came out of the locker room. “Go out there and lay it all on the line no matter what the situation is, no matter what play, no matter anything,” Beckham said of the gist of his message. “Go out there and give it your all.”
That they were mostly able to do that late in a forgettable season, a week after a loss to the Eagles in which they saw a 16-point lead evaporate, may be the biggest victory of the year for them.